What goes up must come down. What goes in must come out. These phrases lacked their gravity before I became a parent. Now I know that I should have bought stock in Pampers wipes and invested in four of those little vacuums that automatically run around your house picking up gunk instead of all those baby extras. Sigh. There is nothing like a reality check to get you in a position of humility, and children do just this service for us adults when we are most comfortable in our otherwise unrestricted schedules. You know-manicures, pedicures, outings with the girls WHENEVER we wanna head out the door, or a lazy day of reading or walking in the park to clear your head. Now I have to plan a month ahead to get to the local salad bar. It's challenging, but I will be first to admit that the parenting "brakes" are more gift than not. I never took time out before to slow down since I was always chasing the next project or career move. It's easy to get sucked into this project and that volunteer opportunity but once it's not about you anymore, you quickly learn a "no" to others is often a "yes" to your family. It is no longer possible to keep up such a pace and living in the present moment is about all we can manage. I remember before we had children our friends would say they couldn't commit to an event, could only come for a little while, or at the last minute, they couldn't come at all because of little ones. Now I get it-really get it. It has been a refreshing change to s-l-o-w down and really smell the roses even if it means you look like a total flake. And don't you forget to smell the roses while you are dealing with the ins and outs of darlin's. You will need the air freshener regularly - trust me. Most of my friends and relatives know me to be fairly uptight, and by that I mean "wound tighter than a German clock" uptight. I remember one-darlin' days and that sort of slowed me down a little. I became a little more unreliable to family and friends in service of the little one's constant needs. I needed to plan a bit more, but the hysteria of trying to do everything kept on keeping on. Then two darlin's were in the house and things got a bit more hectic and we became neurotic about outings. Having two boys felt like four tots to us and you can guess how many parents you need to get "four tots" out the door and safely back again. Just as we adjusted to the feel of two very active boys, three darlin's were tugging on my skirts ALL AT THE SAME TIME and I did have to "shelve" the never-ending-to-do-list for a while even if it did make me twitch a little before I fell asleep each night. Now that darlin' #4 is here, well folks, Martha Stewart has left the building. I try to get to the stuff that would otherwise keep me from sleeping at night but the rest of the silliness got lost under a stack of last year's Christmas cards. I believe without a doubt God intended for me to have just such an experience in the mama hood. Only four darlin's could have coaxed me into slowing down and relaxing a little. To tell you the truth I am enjoying the break even if it wasn't directly my idea. God is great to us like that.